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76 Viking Sun (Retired) Cruise Reviews

My wife and I thoroughly enjoyed Viking's Rhine Getaway on the Viking Sun in mid October. The start wasn't too auspicious because the Rhine was running high and we had to embark from Breisach instead of Basel as expected. ... Read More
My wife and I thoroughly enjoyed Viking's Rhine Getaway on the Viking Sun in mid October. The start wasn't too auspicious because the Rhine was running high and we had to embark from Breisach instead of Basel as expected. Turns out that this was, to me,value added for the cruise because we got to spend extra time there. Although the weather was rainy, the town was delightful. I can highly recommend the Baden wines available in the wine shop on the town square. Breisach is the stop for the first of the tours offered as part of the cruise. We chose to skip the included Black Forest tour because we expected it to be too commercial based on experience with similar tours in Germany. The optional (extra cost) Colmar tour was the only disappointment among the tours we experienced. The guide was very uninformed abut Alsatian history. The included Strasbourg tour, on the other hand, provided an excellent initiation to Alsatian history and culture. All of the other included tours were all very good. Two standouts are the Marksburg Castle and the walking tour of Cologne. The highlight of the Rhine Getaway is cruising the Middle Rhine from Braubach to Koblenz. As I mentioned earlier, it was rainy at the start of the cruise. By thetime we reached Braubach, the weather had cleared. We had a spectacular fall morning to view castles from a river perspective. The commentary over the ship's PA system added to our enjoyment. In summary, while weather can be risky, October cruising has real advantages. In particular, crowding, both on the river and on land was minimal. Cost is also lower than the height of summer. Read Less
Sail Date October 2012
After over 20 plus cruises on ships with 350 to 4,800 passengers, we thought we would try river cruising. Some concerns were the size of the ship and the fewer number of passengers. Could we find places on the ship to relax without a ... Read More
After over 20 plus cruises on ships with 350 to 4,800 passengers, we thought we would try river cruising. Some concerns were the size of the ship and the fewer number of passengers. Could we find places on the ship to relax without a crowd? Would only one meal time be ok? Would our cabin be big enough? Would we fit in with our fellow passengers? Is a small crew going to be ok or will service suffer? When our credentials arrived, we should have known what our trip would be like. There were simple to read and easy to carry documents, outlining every moment of our trip and FAQ's that were very helpful. Even the case the documents arrived in could be used for the cruise. We arrived in Amsterdam for a two night stay and were met by Viking Representatives who put us in a cab and we went straight to our hotel. We met our next Viking Rep in the hotel and were given information about the hotel, dining, our Amsterdam Tour and suggestions for what we might do on our own. There was always someone available to answer any questions. We were told we would be taken to the Viking Sun by bus around 3 on Sunday. We used the morning to see more of Amsterdam and got back to the hotel around noon, thinking we would have to wait in the lobby for our ride. Our Viking Rep asked if we wanted to leave early and the next thing we knew we were on the Viking Sun having lunch and enjoying meeting the crew. We were given our room keys at 3:00 and found a very comfortable,well appointed spotless room. Not huge, not small, just right. I won't go into each port we went to, only to say they were wonderful. The tours were great, on time, great guides, comfortable coaches and enough free time to enjoy each on our own. As to finding spaces for alone time on the ship, not a problem. Plenty of places to quietly relax and enjoy a cup of coffee or a class of wine. We never felt crowded. We always dine early or use flexible dining when we cruise. We wondered how everyone dining at once would be. It was great, tours came back in time to relax a little, have a cocktail and enjoy the Cruise Director's talk about what to expect the next day. Everyone walked to the dining room and sat down. We tried to meet new people every night and it worked out very well. The service and food were excellent. Don't expect to get stuffed, but do expect to enjoy quality, well prepared, well presented meals. Yes, most passengers were our age, 50-80. Most were well traveled and fun to talk with and share stories with. The night life on the ship involves an after dinner drink, listening to the piano and then off to bed to get some sleep for the next day. You need it! I have worked in the service industry my whole career and one of the things I have always felt is that co-workers who care about each other, care about the customer. The crew on the Viking Sun were wonderful. Attentive, fun, caring and professional, from the Captain on down, we enjoyed each of them. They knew how to be available and yet also knew how to give you your space. They were wonderful people. I really am writing this for those who are ocean cruisers who are considering a river cruise. If you go on a cruise ship to party like rock stars, shop in the boutiques, play in the casino and enjoy the nightly shows and nightclubs, keep on enjoying those cruises. But, if you want to see what it's like to have an adventure and learn things you never knew, get on the river. Two other points, we were encouraged to buy local wines, cheeses, etc. and bring them back on board to enjoy. No corkage fees, no holding it until you get back home. This added to the experience as we shared these local treasures with each other and new friends. Second point. Your fee will be higher than on a cruise ship. But, you will never get nickeled and dimed after you pay. Your fee includes your room, board, tours, wine and beer and meals and great hospitality. There are optional tours which we did make use of, but it was great not to have some big bill waiting for us at the end of the trip. Yes, there is one thing that needs to be fixed, but I believe it will only be fixed with a technological breakthrough. Internet on ships stinks, no matter what ship you are on. Ours was free and spotty. When we were in port, it was fine. Thinking of a river cruise? Do it! We will again. Read Less
Sail Date September 2012
We travelled on Viking Sun from Basel to Amsterdam (well, we didn't quite make Amsterdam, but that's another story) in August 2012 with my parents who are in their eighties and my 16 year old daughter. We all had a great time and ... Read More
We travelled on Viking Sun from Basel to Amsterdam (well, we didn't quite make Amsterdam, but that's another story) in August 2012 with my parents who are in their eighties and my 16 year old daughter. We all had a great time and I agree with all the other reviews on here that tell you how wonderful the food, cabins, excursions, fellow travellers etc are. We were extremely comfortable, well fed and well entertained and made some great new friends. So I thought I'd just mention here a few practical points that may be helpful for others considering such a cruise: 1. Taking a teenager - most of our fellow travellers were over 50 and my daughter plus two other girls probably in their early teens were the only youngsters on the boat. Another couple told us that they had asked to bring their 11 year old daughter but had been told that this wasn't allowed. My daughter is very happy with adult company, quite happy to sit and read a book and is also interested in history and culture so she was very content with the cruise (as long as she could regularly reconnect with friends at home via the Internet). If your teenager wouldn't last five minutes in this environment (like my son) then probably best not to inflict it on them and them on everyone else. 2. Taking people with limited mobility - my mother finds walking difficult but coped well, particularly when Viking decided after day one to introduce a 'leisurely paced' tour group. There are no lifts on the boat however so to get between the dining room, the lounge or sundeck you need to be able to manage flights of stairs. Actually, the exercise probably did her good! The staff were always very helpful and Viking clearly knows its market and has thought about how to meet the needs of older people. 3. Being organised - you do need to plan ahead and be in the right place at the right time - tours tended to leave the boat at 8.30am, dinner and lunch were served at fixed times. We coped fine with this - we're like that anyway - but we know some people who would have hated being so organised and not getting their lie-in on holiday. Looking back, I think one of the most relaxing thing for me was being freed from almost any sort of decision making beyond what to eat. With a busy professional job and a family to organise, my life is usually full of decisions to be negotiated so this was a real break for me! 4. Keeping in touch with the outside world - there is an OK Internet connection but it's not great - it took me an hour to download The Times. We took a wireless phone dongle to supplement the ship's connection. We will certainly look at cruising again with Viking. Read Less
Sail Date August 2012
Best holiday ever! Cruised ten times on Cunard, Viking knocks spots off them. Superlatives cannot do the staff, ship, itinerary, organisation, food, service, weather (yes we had fantastic weather all trip!) and fellow passengers justice. I ... Read More
Best holiday ever! Cruised ten times on Cunard, Viking knocks spots off them. Superlatives cannot do the staff, ship, itinerary, organisation, food, service, weather (yes we had fantastic weather all trip!) and fellow passengers justice. I posted before we went that I had my doubts about paying the tips. Well, I paid them, in full, I was soooo pleased and so thrilled by the week. I travelled with my 84 year old Dad as it was his dream to do this trip. Viking looked after us from the moment we landed in Amsterdam to the time we went through security at Basle Airport back to the UK. We met some fantastic people, staff, crew and fellow passengers, and I want to give a HUGE shout out of thanks to Tom Ash the programme director, Connie, head of hotel operations and George and Lazlo our waiters. Anita who kept our room spick and span is the best room attendant Ive had in years of cruising, hotel stays and holidays. Only slight issue was with the Quietvox system used on tours - sometimes it was a bit crackly. We lived with it. It was no big deal in the great scheme of things. The open dining in the evgs we circumvented by sending a table grabber down at 6.55 pm. Those were my only very slight criticisms. As to value for money - £4,500 we paid for the two of us, and I understand now Ive been and returned where that money goes. Free bottled water every trip, welcome back fruit shots and cooling towels, amazing local guides, concierge service for taxis, private trips, dinner reservations, printing off boarding passes. Cookies and cakes and coffees and teas and cappuccinos and hot chocolate on tap and night. The wine flowed and flowed with dinner - all included. I had soft drinks, and I could have as many as I wished for over dinner, and just after. We had some fun entertainment - local and quirky, and we had some liquer and cheese tastings, flambe demonstrations and the best talk on Dutch polders and windmills. I loved the fact we all got INDIVIDUAL disembarkation times depending on our onward travel arrangements. We weren't pushed off the ship at 8 am. The beds were super comfy, the towels fluffy, the linen luxurious. The cutlery and crockery Villeroy and Boche, the glass ware real crystal. The highlights? Oh too many but the German food market the staff put on for us - that was all the staff, the pianist was serving pretzels and the cruise director sausages!! upon on the deck as we sailed through the castles - oh my. The gateaux that followed - divine. Dad and I hope to sail with Viking again next year - maybe the Danube. I cannot recommend this company highly enough, and to put in context, I am Mrs Fussy! If it pleases me - it must surely please others too! Read Less
Sail Date July 2012
I had given up on ever experiencing a cruise holiday and I was pleasantly surprised that my wife readily agreed to a cruise on the River Rhine last year. Viking River Cruises did not let us down!! Our first experience was great even ... Read More
I had given up on ever experiencing a cruise holiday and I was pleasantly surprised that my wife readily agreed to a cruise on the River Rhine last year. Viking River Cruises did not let us down!! Our first experience was great even if the weather was rather wet precluding evening drinks on the sun deck. The on board evening entertainment in the cocktail bar was so good and had us dancing most nights. This is not to say that there are no areas where the already excellent product may be improved ,but these were only very miner points such as having to queue for ones food on occasion and lack of Internet connectivity in the staterooms. The staff/crew were fantastic taking great care of all of us and ensuring that where possible our whims were satisfied. We shall most certainly be taking another river cruise ( in Europe) with Viking. Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
My husband and I joined Viking for our second river cruise in June, 2012. Our cruise was scheduled to depart from Basel, Switzerland, but due to high water, we actually were bussed from Basel to Breisach. In spite of the change in plans, ... Read More
My husband and I joined Viking for our second river cruise in June, 2012. Our cruise was scheduled to depart from Basel, Switzerland, but due to high water, we actually were bussed from Basel to Breisach. In spite of the change in plans, our cruise staff managed everything beautifully and made us feel comfortable and special. We arrived on board just in time for dinner on Sunday evening, freshened up quickly, and were greeted by our friendly staff. We found the food to be excellent. The chef makes each meal special. While food on the Viking cruises is not overdone like some ocean cruises, there is always enough food! The destinations were historically interesting and well-balanced with very knowledgeable tour guides and docents. Unfortunately we had quite a bit of rain on this particular trip, but we were still able to see all of the sites and cities that we had hoped to see. If the weather had been better, I know we would have had even more fun. We especially loved our time in Alsace. Touring Strasbourg and the surrounding area with people who really know the area is a delight. Our only disappointment about this area is we would have liked a little more shopping time. I am pleased that Viking does not take us from one tourist trap to the next. We tend to visit more out of the way places or to visit at off-times so that we don't have to elbow our way to the front of the mass of people. Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
We are both retired and decided to try a first time river cruise. We booked a Rhine River Cruise, Amsterdam to Basel, with Viking River Cruises, first week in June 2012 aboard the ship Viking Sun. We did our home work before we booked ... Read More
We are both retired and decided to try a first time river cruise. We booked a Rhine River Cruise, Amsterdam to Basel, with Viking River Cruises, first week in June 2012 aboard the ship Viking Sun. We did our home work before we booked and selected Viking River Cruises based on the advertised quality of the holiday package we could expect. The total holiday cost was £4,500.00 for 1 weeks cruising. The ship, Viking Sun, offered a warm and welcoming atmosphere. We found all the staff to be polite, courteous and very friendly, nothing was too much trouble. The friendliness of the staff was a most welcoming feature. Our grade "A" stateroom was very clean and well presented, exactly as advertised. Our cabin was serviced very efficiently with a good level of attention being given to detail of presentation. The only negative comment justified is the restrict number of hangers in the wardrobe, only 4/5 each -- would have liked a couple more at least. The lounge and bar was well presented and comfortable with excellent friendly service from the bar staff. The lunch time and evening entertainment from the resident pianist created a relaxing atmosphere. The dining room is light and airy, and well staffed. Could not fault the buffet breakfast, ( 7-9am ) every conceivable breakfast item, hot or cold was available to meet any guests needs. Lunch ( 12-2pm ) could be taken in the dining room ( 3 course formal ) or the lounge where a buffet selection was available -- once again cannot fault the food selection available. The evening meal is at a fixed time, 7.0pm which consequently generates a "school meal" queuing approach followed by a mad dash for a table ( tables are not reserved ), once again the dining experience was enjoyable as was the complimentary wine. Our main gripe of the holiday centred around the dining room. We did not like the fixed time for dinner for the reasons mention above, 7.0 -- 7.30pm would have alleviated some of the uncomfortableness associated with mature adults queuing and vying for a place to eat. We also noted that though the dress code for dinner was "casual smart" we were somewhat surprised to find that some guest ( mature adults ) could not progress beyond jeans, tee shirt and trainers. The worst aspect of the dinning room experience was what appeared to be the determined need by the dining room staff to clear every glass, plate, dish the minute it was finished with, consequently plates were being cleared from a table while other table guest were still eating, - we found this unacceptable, and unprofessional. We thoroughly enjoyed our river cruise and would consider booking with Viking River Cruises again. We would rate the Ship, Accommodation and the Service as a "4 star" experience, but still consider that value for money the weeks cruise is over price. Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
I take each of the girls, kids and grans, on a trip of their choice when they graduate from college. Our grand-daughter chose this Rhine cruise with a pre-extension at the Floriade, a once every ten years horticultural exhibit in the ... Read More
I take each of the girls, kids and grans, on a trip of their choice when they graduate from college. Our grand-daughter chose this Rhine cruise with a pre-extension at the Floriade, a once every ten years horticultural exhibit in the Netherlands. Our plane from the States arived in Amsterdam late, but Viking had a black Mercedes town car waiting right outside the door for us with a wonderful chauffeur named Bea. She was a wealth of information, funny and bright and made our jet lagged selves feel right at home. We were met in Maastricht by the concierge of the Beaumont hotel at curbside with our key. We didn't even have to check in. More great VRC service! Grandpa and I had taken this same cruise up the Rhine about three years ago and loved it, so I didn't mind doing it again. So many reviews have been written about these trips, but what was different about this one was experiencing Europe through new eyes. Being able to see everything anew, watch her wonder and joy at everything was splendid. Viking was wonderful, celebrating her 21st birthday on board with not just any candles, but a Roman candle on the cake in the dining room. Pretty festive! I think this was the best service I've had on any VRC, the food was very good, and all of the staff were so helpful. Favorite enrichment talk was on the European Union, most informative. We loved the shore tours, even the one to the Black Forest, where our bus was detoured because of road work. The same trip one of the other buses caught on fire under the carriage, a wiring problem. We all stopped and waited with the stranded passengers until they caught another bus. Everyone handled it well, and VRC was superb. The only dismay was because everyone's time at the clock shop was cut short. About that. If you go on the Black Forest tour, walk behind the buildings, down the paved trail and you will see a tiny chapel. Walk up and look through the basement window. It is filled with skulls and bones. I was told by one of the locals that this is the oldest church in the Black Forest. None of the tour guides mentioned it, or even knew that it was there.We tried all of the local foods, including the white asparagus dishes which were in season, ate seemingly every two hours and stopped at every pastry shop. Strasbourg is my favorite town. Lizzie climbed the cathedral tower and I did some shopping. We bought original watercolors of Strasbourg from a street vendor for 2 or 3 Euros each, my favorite souvenir of the trip. We walked miles on our own, always felt safe, and found the locals to be friendly and accommodating. In France we were fed more free samples than we could eat, almost. A most clever ploy by the shopkeepers to let us taste their wonderful offerings so that we would then be hooked and buy. It worked! She wanted castles? She got castles! There was one seemingly on every promontory of the Rhine. We visited a few, Marksburg is still my favorite. Were there some glitches? Certainly, since we wasn't the boss of everything, but they were minimal and easily rectified. Our motto was, 'We all paid too much money for this trip to have a lousy time'! Next time you get stuck at a table with some persistent complainers, give it a try. Works every time. So many people on these boards are experienced cruisers, and know how to have fun. But try taking one of your adult grand-kids with you, just the two of you. We walked miles, laughed like crazy, and really got to know each other. The experience was one I'll cherish forever. Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
After spending two days in Amsterdam at our leisure( found a great hotel via our travel agent), we showed up early Sunday AM at the dock and our luggage was immediately tagged and brought onto the ship without any delay. Returned to the ... Read More
After spending two days in Amsterdam at our leisure( found a great hotel via our travel agent), we showed up early Sunday AM at the dock and our luggage was immediately tagged and brought onto the ship without any delay. Returned to the ship late afternoon, luggage had been stowed in room which was spacious and neat. Loved the Koln cathedral and Roman museum tour, had lunch outdoors at Peters Brauhaus due to recommendation from Viking, excellent food, good prices. Toured the Schololaden museum later in the day, most of the chocolate that we purchased in the gift shop never made it home. The food on board was excellent, especially loved the cites of Heidelberg and Strasbourg, ate lunch both days in local bisto's. The hightlight of the trip was the optional Colmar WWII tour, the guide was outstanding, do not miss this tour. Everything was very well organized, the weather cooperated, and we will definitely book again with Viking, there are just so many good choices its difficult to make a destination decision Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
Arrival: We were a little worried prior to the cruise because it didn't seem like we had a lot of information, but about a month before the cruise we received a very nice portfolio including air ticket information, a travel guide, ... Read More
Arrival: We were a little worried prior to the cruise because it didn't seem like we had a lot of information, but about a month before the cruise we received a very nice portfolio including air ticket information, a travel guide, and a few other goodies. We were pleased to be booked on a flight for which we could earn air miles, including return air that came directly to our home airport from Paris. It is very convenient to have the Viking staff for the transfers. We were met after luggage pick up and directed to a mutual meeting area where we gathered with others for our trip to the ship. We arrived around noon and were escorted into the ship for lunch. Our bags were completely handled by the Viking staff. Lunch was served in the lounge and soon after, we were offered a "jet-lag walk" through Amsterdam which was a wonderful way to stay awake and see Amsterdam when we knew we only had the one day there. It helped us ease into the trip. The Ship: The cabins are what you'd expect on a cruise, small, but with plenty of cleverly designed storage space. The shower was larger than we've had on other ships, which was a treat. The bathroom had a nice vanity. My only complaint about the cruise was the way the bedding was on the beds. The king size bed was formed by two twins, which I expected, but at night the two beds had separate bedding, which was very annoying. The small comforter repeatedly fell off the bed as I turned over in the night. I'd much prefer one large blanket over the full bed. Nevertheless, the room was kept very clean, attended to twice a day, and had the fluffiest towels I've ever had. We also enjoyed the full size French balcony, even though we rarely opened the windows since it was cold. The public areas are just the size to accommodate the guests on board. The dining room has tables for six or more and so meals are a chance to meet other guests and share stories. We were travelling with other family members and most often ate with them and a few others at our table. I really appreciated the way the menus were designed around local flavors. On our cruise we enjoyed Schnitzel, spaetzle, potato dishes, German cakes, and many interesting soups. The staff was very attentive and the wine (which was free at dinner) flowed easily. Viktor took such excellent care of us, we gravitated to his area of the dining room, even though we were free to sit wherever we wished. The lounge turned out to be a great place to relax before or after dinner, and was also the scene of several cultural events. One day we had a Kolsch tasting, on another there was a demonstration of Rudesheim coffee, and on another a Jenever and cheese tasting, all associated with the towns we were visiting. There was piano music almost constantly when the lounge was open and Svetlana was a most friendly and attentive server. The lounge is also completely enclosed in windows, which was very important for a December cruise! I can imagine that the lounge must be more crowded in winter than in summer when the upper deck would be a pleasant public space. For us, we really only went up on the deck while cruising the Rhine gorge past the castles. The Itinerary: Cruising the Rhine during the Christmas markets was absolutely magical. Each village's market was completely different and so the trip didn't seem repetitious at all. If you do go during the Christmas markets and you see something you like, don't assume you'll see it again at later ports. Some items appeared again, but many others did not. My favorite market was in Rudesheim, which was very quaint, but Cologne and Strasbourg have multiple markets and those are fun too. At each market they sell Gluwein, a hot mulled wine. If you pay a deposit, you can keep the cup, so we came home with a collection of dated mugs from the markets which we'll enjoy for many Christmases to come. Because we cruised during Christmas we didn't visit as many museums as one might but the cathedrals and churches were beautifully decorated for the holidays and in Strasbourg we saw some very beautiful tapestries that are only displayed during Advent. In each port the ship offered a walking tour, but it was easy to leave the tour and explore on our own when we wanted to. We never had to worry about entrance fees or standing in lines. Most of our guides were excellent, although there was a variety in the quality. I was glad that they always offered a leisure tour, which I could avoid, as there were many older travelers and I prefer a faster pace of walking from place to place. Although there are local guides in the towns, we were always accompanied by Viking staff led by Brano who was an excellent program director. We took two of the "extra" excursions. In Cologne we went on the beer tour. It is mainly a whirlwind tour through three brauhauses where you get to try the local beers. You could easily do this on your own since the ship is moored within walking distance. We also took the optional Colmar excursion, but since we were there on a Saturday afternoon/evening, the town was extremely crowded with tourists in the Christmas markets, we had our least able guide, and were less impressed than we might have otherwise been. Although all meals were included in the cruise, we did eat a few meals in the ports, which I recommend. Although the meals onboard are excellent, the meals ashore are even better. We enjoyed a bratwurst from a Christmas market for lunch one day, pork and saurcraut for dinner one night, and choucroute in Strasbourg. It was also fun to try some of the local wines and beers away from the ship. The itinerary had plenty of room for this type of exploration. Viking Company: We were very impressed with the Viking Company once we were on the ship. The staff is excellently trained and friendly. Each port is managed very well. Every request we made was quickly attended to. The onboard prices for drinks are reasonable. Most importantly, Viking wants to make sure you are happy with your cruise. About a week before embarkation, we were informed that we would not be able to complete our itinerary because of the low levels on the Rhine and would complete part of the tour on buses and in hotels. They offered an onboard credit, free excursions, and a percentage off our next cruise. Once aboard we were informed that due to a week of rain (which continued throughout our cruise) we would be able to complete the cruise, and the credit and free excursions were still honored. We felt this was very good business and helped make us even happier with Viking. We will definitely cruise Viking again...if we can just decide what to do next! Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
In Nov 2011 we booked a river cruise through Viking for a 15 day cruise sailing the River Rhine from Antwerp to Basel, Switzerland. Food was average, crew was great, room great, and ports of call guided tours were perfect. The problem ... Read More
In Nov 2011 we booked a river cruise through Viking for a 15 day cruise sailing the River Rhine from Antwerp to Basel, Switzerland. Food was average, crew was great, room great, and ports of call guided tours were perfect. The problem came half way through the cruise and we were off loaded onto buses to finish our 'cruise' staying in hotels, on and off buses, and dealing with packing and unpacking. These are the reasons we booked the river cruise was to not have to live in hotels and buses....we've already done that several times and now we are ready for the lazy days of a river cruise. Water levels being low was the reason given which is true, the problem was Viking knew this well in advance, knew the cruise couldn't be completed without the bus tour and never once offered us the opportunity to postpone our trip for a later date or make any other arrangements. They didn't say anything until the night before we were put on buses. Other reviews indicate at least in the past 12 months, this has been how they operate and is no way to get repeat business. For our 'trouble' they offered a 30% off what we paid for this trip to be used as a credit for another cruise within 12 months. That doesn't come close to being the right thing for them to do under the circumstances. A partial refund for this part of the trip is the right thing to do. Do your homework before booking a cruise with Viking as you can't count on them being honest with you about your trip. Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
After hitting two hurricanes and one large storm ocean cruising many years ago, I thought I'd never try again. Then Viking sent their brochures and we tried it last fall on the Danube Waltz from Budapest to Passau, Germany. The ... Read More
After hitting two hurricanes and one large storm ocean cruising many years ago, I thought I'd never try again. Then Viking sent their brochures and we tried it last fall on the Danube Waltz from Budapest to Passau, Germany. The sights of those beautiful and historic towns and cities were spectacular, yet what stands out in my memory is the superb service of the staff. Connie, the cruise director, was hard-working, cheerful and right on top of everything. Marcie oversaw all the activities and had to deal with last-minute arrangements for extra cars because many were confused or lazy about signing up for special transportation. She was overwhelmed with work yet did it with a smile that said it was all OK. One night we ordered Amaretto at the bar and we were served a cheaper brand that we couldn't drink. The bartender didn't charge us and promised to have the real stuff the next night, which he did. I had challenged him to a taste test, which I took and passed--all in good humor. Every single member of the staff was extremely helpful. The side trips were generally good, although I could have skipped the Roman horsemen. There were so many activities that we had no time for anything else--we gobbled up the sights. Some exceptional ports, not on the master list herein, are worth noting. After Budapest we sailed to Bratislava which was once the capital of Hungary. The architecture is unique and beautiful. Durnstein was our favorite port. It's midieval buildings, cobblestones, and vineyards transported us into a Old World day tour we'd like to repeat. Vienna was the most beautiful city I've ever seen and the white horse daily practice session was kicks. Saltzburg was a great walking tour combining historic places with bustling markets. And our last stop, Passau, was small enough that we stopped for a German 'wurst' lunch, visited the glass museum and heard an outstanding organ concert in a church with more organ pipes than one can count. I cannot imagine a cruise line that could provide greater planning, sights, service or exceptional food than Viking. So we have booked into the Rhine getaway for next September. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
We chose this particular river cruise company because of the itinerary--it covered lots of countries on the Rhine, plus the city of Brugges, a must-see! We had sailed on a Danube cruise with Amawaterways a few years ago, an exceptional ... Read More
We chose this particular river cruise company because of the itinerary--it covered lots of countries on the Rhine, plus the city of Brugges, a must-see! We had sailed on a Danube cruise with Amawaterways a few years ago, an exceptional cruise, and figured that Viking wouldn't match up. How wrong we were! It was about the most perfect trip we have ever taken. Viking has their act together!!! After gaining 5+ pounds, I can say that we had 5 star gourmet food at every meal plus wonderful snacks. The servers were so professional and hard working, wanting to please the passengers. Andreas, the chef, was great--I loved his cooking demonstrations and his sense of humor. The rooms were kept spotless, free bottled water in the rooms every day, and lots of storage room for clothing. How nice to only unpack once for the whole trip! Our Program Director, Luk, gave informative talks about each port and optional excursions, and he had such a great sense of humor! I felt as though he was a friend by the time we left the ship. One of my favorite parts of the cruise were the guided tours by local guides--they spoke excellent English, answered all our questions, and were enthusiastic. We took the optional Colmar town excursion which was a quaint Alsace town--a must-see! We also went to the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam on our own, that we recommend seeing, even though we had to wait in a long line. Don't bother spending extra money to upgrade to a balcony cabin. The window in our D level room was large and let in plenty of light. We were able to see swans close up swimming by our window several times! You won't spend much time in your room because the lounge is beautiful with great picture windows, and we also spent a lot of time on the upper deck watching the castles go by! We went with 10 of our neighbors and 6 of them went on the optional tour to Lucerne--it was not the best experience because traffic was bad due to road construction and they only got to see Lucerne for an hour and 1/2 and had to rush around--their guide was a bit grumpy, too. My advice is to go on the Lucerne post-cruise extension, so that you can get a longer time in this beautiful city (we had visited Lucerne before). In Basel, we had the option of the regular city tour, or the "Close and Personal tour" (no extra charge)where you got to ride the streetcar and ferry in addition to a rigorous city tour. We loved this tour, because the guide told us tales about the city, and we got to see more places than the regular city tour. We only had a half hour on our own which was fine with me because we covered the city very well. We had listening devices provided for most of the tours which was wonderful. We could hear everything said. I was surprised at all the 80+ year-old people on this trip, though. At least the ship provided a leisurely guided tour at each port for them because walking on cobblestones, up and down hills and steps is a bit much for most people of that age and is very tiring for all ages. The ship provided entertainment every night, but don't expect it to be like the entertainment you get on a large cruise ship. I didn't care because usually after dinner was over at 9 or 9:30, I was tired and ready to turn in. The piano player was super, though, and very talented. No complaints on this trip--so much to see and we did it in high style! Thanks Viking Sun! Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
Booking From the time we contacted Viking for information on the cruise we chose, we received excellent service and expert information. Before we ever boarded the plane, we had the answers to all the questions that were ... Read More
Booking From the time we contacted Viking for information on the cruise we chose, we received excellent service and expert information. Before we ever boarded the plane, we had the answers to all the questions that were important to us: transfer from airport to the pre-trip extension to Brussels, transfer from Brussels to the ship in Antwerp, laundry on the ship, beverage packages, use of credit cards, local currency, and many other pieces of essential information I have now forgotten. On the date we made our way to our local airport, I felt confident that all would go smoothly. I was correct, and the attention to detail that makes for smooth travel followed us all the way back to our local airport twenty-one days later. Viking Support A Viking Representative met us with a Viking sign in the Brussels airport and took us to the beautiful Conrad Brussels hotel in a lovely part of the city. The accommodations were excellent, the included breakfasts were delicious, and convenient city location was close to wonderful restaurants and efficient public transportation. A Viking Representative maintains a desk in the hotel to give Viking guests all the information needed to make their Brussels trip as structured or as independent as guests wish. Guests may decide to take the included guided tour of the city, or they may choose to explore on their own. If they choose to explore independently, the Viking Representative will provide guests with all possible information they will need to make their trip enjoyable. At the end of the pre-extension, a bus picks up the guests from the hotel in Brussels and takes them to Antwerp to board the Viking Sun for the next fifteen days on the Treasures of the Rhine cruise. The Viking Staff maintains that level of commitment throughout the trip on the ship and continues to the airport at the end or to the post-extension in Lucerne. We chose the Lucerne post-extension and experienced the same level of service that we had on the pre-extension and the ship. We and our bags were handled carefully by Viking until we returned to our home airport. For some travelers, this level of attention may not be their key to an enjoyable vacation. For my husband and me, it was perfect. We did not have to worry with all the planning and travel that we do in our everyday lives and our careers. We could simply relax and let someone else handle the details in an organized and efficient way. We relaxed, and Viking handled the details beautifully. It was simply the best, most-relaxing, and culturally informative trip we have ever taken. I cannot recommend it too highly to others who are considering a river cruise. Viking Sun The ship is not anything like an ocean liner. It accommodates close to 200 people with rooms that are roomy with plenty of storage. The beds are built high to allow storage of luggage. We took four large suitcases and had no problem storing them under our bed. We had a room with a large window that we often opened to feel the river breezes or take photos of interesting sights we passed. Other cabins have doors and French balconies, and a few on the lowest level have small windows. The desk on the main level is manned twenty-four hours, and the staff is prepared to answer any questions and take care of any guest needs. The staff is very knowledgeable and receptive to all requests. We had very few questions, but they were always very helpful and pleasant. The lounge on the upper level is just lovely and offers a wonderful place for guests to sit on those occasions when they are not sightseeing or enjoying the comforts of their cabins. The bartender on the Viking Sun, Roman, assisted by Svetlena, seem to know exactly what guests want to order and serves them with such friendliness. Dimo, a most talented musician, plays the piano for the guests every afternoon and evening and even stops to engage them in conversation about their travels during the day. Dining on the Viking Sun is such a delightful experience. Although there is not the selection of food offered on a cruise ship, the two or three entrees available each day are superb. Delightful red and white table wines are served at dinner with no limit. Wine packages and soft drink are also available for those who wish to purchase them. I purchased the wine package, and my husband purchased the soft drink package. We were completely satisfied. Akos, Vicktor, and Slavo ensure that all requests are filled, and they learn very quickly whether guests like coffee, tea, prefer a glass of wine, etc. The chef, Andreas, not only serves delightful local dishes for guests, he previews his selections in the lounge before dinner nightly. He is very visible throughout the trip, and guests come to know him as a person and not an anonymous chef back in the kitchen. Breakfasts are buffet. Guests who wish may order special breakfasts, but I cannot imagine why one would. The buffets are almost overwhelming and quite good. On our trip, I especially fell in love with the dark German bread and more than once thought of smuggling a loaf out and bringing it home. My values caught up with me, and I did not steal it; however, I must confess that I thought about it. It was so good. Lunches are served in the dining room, and guests may order from the menu as well as choose from a salad and sandwich buffet. Lunch is also served in the lounge above, and many people prefer that menu. I did not eat in the lounge and cannot comment on it. Others really seemed to enjoy it. Pastries, juice, and coffee are available in the lounge for the early risers, and cookies are available all afternoon. The coffee machine and ice water and tea are also in the lounge for guests to enjoy whenever they wish. Shore Trips Trips ashore are planned with the precision of a military mission with nothing left to chance. Each night, the program director Lucia delivers the "Daily Briefing" to interested guests in the lounge the planned events for the following day. For those who do not wish to attend such briefings, information is printed out in detail daily for the guests with this same information. The difference is the expert way in which Lucia describes the area to be visited, explains its historical and cultural significance in the area, and interesting sites one might like to see on his/her own. Before guests leave for the daily trips, they hand in room keys to the desk attendant which means the captain and crew are never left wondering whether or not guests have returned from their trips ashore. They also pick up as many bottles of free water they wish to take with them on their journeys. On guests' return to the ship, they pick up their room keys and enjoy the tea, juice, and ice water waiting for them at the boarding entrance. This is in addition to the aforementioned cookies and drinks in the lounge. The local guides are almost 100 percent excellent at every stop. For guests who know nothing about the history except what Lucia has told them the night before, it is a college class in area history and culture in a few hours. For guests who are well-traveled and very knowledgeable about history, the guide adds to the guests' wealth of knowledge with local bits of previously unknown information. On occasion, Viking will invite entertainers aboard to play local music or teach a lesson of some cultural note in the area. Many guests really enjoy this added feature to a Viking Cruise. Viking's relationship with guests My husband and I do not expect much handholding and do not need to be catered to in order to have a great trip. We do not require the fantastic treatment offered on a Viking cruise. Yet, that is exactly what we received. Every crew member meets the guests, greets the guests, and seems to be happy to help the guests. The company seems to value not only every guest but the crew members as well. I was especially impressed that we were allowed to meet everyone, especially the men who secured our boat to the shore each time we landed. I liked to see the crew standing right beside the captain when we concluded our tour. For, in fact, there is no cruise without the help of every one of the crew members. Thank you, Viking. Negative comments: The only negative comment about Viking, the Viking Sun, and the Treasures of the Rhine is the Internet problem. In the global economy of 2011, the poor Internet access on this trip is unacceptable. The company must immediately take steps to make access more available and consistent or lose the new generation of river travelers who must stay connected to the world through the Internet. Without this adjustment, all of the aforementioned plusses of the trip will not override this one major flaw. Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
We went on the Rhine Getaway from Amsterdam to Lucerne, with a 2-day post trip extension in Switzerland in May 2011. The vacation was booked as a birthday trip (I turned 40) and as a once-in-a-lifetime getaway since we hadn't done a ... Read More
We went on the Rhine Getaway from Amsterdam to Lucerne, with a 2-day post trip extension in Switzerland in May 2011. The vacation was booked as a birthday trip (I turned 40) and as a once-in-a-lifetime getaway since we hadn't done a lot of traveling over the past few years and we missed it. We've traveled in Europe and South America, but this was our first river cruise. Viking also arranged our air travel and transfers. With the cruise, air travel and 2-day extension, we dropped about 10k on this trip. To start, we received a lot of information before the cruise, with a cruise packet coming about 2 weeks prior containing our travel documents, itinerary and other general information. Our flight to Amsterdam was fine; however, upon leaving the plane we had to wait about 10 minutes for our bags, as they went to the wrong baggage claim. We then went to the first of two meeting points in the airport for our included transfer to the boat. No one from Viking was there. We decided to go to the second meeting point mentioned in our literature and again, no one from Viking was there. We waited for about 20 minutes and then my husband went back to the first spot while I stayed at the second. Still...no one. We waited another 20 minutes and then dug into our literature to find the "emergency" phone numbers. Well - the first number listed as an emergency contact was a disconnected number. Great! The second number was to Viking and we got a pre-recorded message that we should call back during Viking business hours. After spending another 20 minutes or so going from spot one to spot two and talking to everyone, a driver overheard us and said the Viking representative had been then earlier but was gone. He had a number and called, they dispatched a car for us personally. I was not impressed - they left us because we were 10 minutes late? We got to the boat (morning) and it was quite busy with activity, as the passengers from the last trip were still disembarking and getting rides to other destinations. We knew ahead of time that check-in wasn't until later in the day, so we dropped our bags off and went to explore Amsterdam. It did strike me that there is no security to get on and off the boat. I was a little concerned about leaving our bags there (even with luggage tags). Check-in was fine and we were provided with cookies, coffee and tea while waiting. Our cabin, on the lower deck, was small, but very clean and nicely laid out. Bed was pretty uncomfortable, but we weren't expecting much. We had a small porthole window, which was fine, as we knew we wouldn't spend much time in our room. Decor was fine, and I was provided with extra pillows and extra clothing hangers upon request. More specifics about different aspects of the cruise are listed below. THE SHIP The ship itself was nice, but nothing that screamed "luxury" to either of us, as the trip is marketed as a "luxury cruise" experience. All areas of the ship were clean and neat, and quite efficient in design since it is smaller than an ocean liner. The lobby area, before going out on daily excursions, was much too small to hold everyone just standing around waiting to leave, but otherwise it was not a big deal. There is a beverage station open 24 hours per day, where you can get coffee, tea or water. There are cookies set out after lunch. The dining areas were fine, and had open seating, which was a nice way to meet other cruisers. The beds are pretty uncomfortable and the air in our cabin was extremely dry. I thought I was coming down with a cold by day 3 as I woke up with a really sore throat and was very stuffed up. This lingered the rest of the trip until we got to Lucerne and off the boat, so I never really felt great. We would leave the ship for the day and I'd start feeling better, but as soon as I got to the cabin I would start feeling poorly again. THE EXCURSIONS We had quite a few excursions, and we also signed up for almost all the optional excursions. We were, overall, disappointed in these activities. They are great about keeping on schedule, and we were broken into multiple groups for the actual tours; but I wish they'd had a group for more active people. We knew we'd be the youngest on-board (40 and 36), but there were plenty of others on-board who were active and fit enough to handle faster-paced tours. They had one tour that was for slower folks, it would've been nice to've had one for faster people, too. The majority of the excursion destinations were disappointing. Every place we went, with only a few exceptions, was so packed with other tourists that we could barely get around and see anything. The Viking marketing materials explained things in such a way that we thought we'd have "back stage passes," if you will, to these beautiful castles and churches. That was not the case. The trip to Heidelburg Castle was exceptionally disappointing, as we walked through the grounds, waited in line to get in and saw one big area inside; only to get herded back to our bus and leave. It was an absolute zoo and the castle itself was not worth the trip there. Going to Rudesheim was a complete waste of time. It was a giant tourist trap, obviously built for and around tourists. The walk into town was about a mile from the boat and there was nothing worth seeing. We did take an optional excursion into town that evening for dinner and it was fun, but we had to pay extra, of course. The trip through the Black Forest was likely the worst part of the trip, as we took a long bus ride through the forest (without any stops along the way to enjoy the view) only to arrive at a tiny outpost that was, again, a giant tourist trap (it was a giant shopping village where you could buy cuckoo clocks, blown glass, etc., and that was it). My husband was looking forward to the black forest cake, as we were promised; however, it was not included and came from a cafeteria-type eatery under the shops. He got a piece, it was okay. We wanted to see something authentic, not something thrown together for tourists. We did enjoy some of the excursions; Marksburg Castle was amazing, Strasbourg & Colmar were wonderful and Cologne was interesting. There was a lot of freetime where we could wander around the towns and shop, eat, explore...and we did! But in the end, the excursions, the parts that we were MOST looking forward to, were just so-so. THE FOOD The food on the boat, in our opinion, was just okay. There were normally three options to choose from: a beef/pork option, a fish option and a vegetarian option. The fish dishes were pretty bland and I stopped eating them completely after having one dish where the tiny bones were not properly removed and I got one stuck in my throat. Yep, a fish bone got stuck in my throat. If you don't like any of the proteins offered, you can always get a chicken dish, which I ended up getting one night and it was pretty good. There were lots of fried foods and everything was made with heavy cream sauces. Desserts were okay, but nothing exceptional. My husband normally got a different option than me, and he thought the food was pretty bland, too. Perhaps that's because the cruise itself is skewed to a much older audience? Nothing was outright bad, but most things were pretty mediocre. Lunches and breakfasts were good, normally consisting of a buffet with some good options. Meals were always on time and the dining areas were always clean and efficient. THE STAFF It was pretty hit or miss with the staff; no one was outright rude or uncooperative, but some were definitely better than others. We were constantly asking for water, coffee and wine refills during meals, which was annoying. Our program directors were friendly, helpful and personable and we enjoyed our local tour guides, as well (though we heard varying stories amongst the other groups). Our room was cleaned twice per day and kept in great shape. Reception desk staff was also helpful and nice. OVERALL There were absolutely some positives about this trip; but for the amount of money we paid, we were not "WOWed" by the overall experience and I just can't recommend Viking to others. we're not overly picky people and we have traveled quite a bit -- but we expected a lot more for the money. What could make it better? More options for dinner, including more regional dishes and less bland food. Smaller excursion groups, more geared towards activity level. Less tourist-based excursion destinations. I know that can be tough in such a place, but some of the choices were outright wastes of time. Convert the totally unused "library" on the boat into a fitness room. Make your staff completely wow the customers (oh, and give them a salary rather than depending on travelers to pay them by tipping, isn't $10k enough to pay?). I didn't want to get waited on hand & foot, nor did we make many special requests, but we only felt that a couple of people went out of their way to make sure we had the trip of a lifetime. More on-board activities such as the German street-food lunch and the flammkuchen demonstration. The lectures were interesting, but the interactive activities were really fun and with so much regional flair, it would've been nice to see/do more with that while we were cruising. So that's what it boils down to for us -- we paid a ton of money and didn't feel we got a ton of a trip! Had I spent half of what I paid, I might not be so hard on Viking, but this wasn't chump-change for us. We enjoyed the time we spent together, and we enjoyed seeing a part of the world we hadn't seen before and we made some great friends on-board; but I wouldn't cruise with them again unless they drastically dropped their prices. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
We returned yesterday from our first river cruise after many ocean voyages. We have enjoyed cruising as a main form of travel and felt that river cruising would give us an opportunity to see the interiors of European Countries where you ... Read More
We returned yesterday from our first river cruise after many ocean voyages. We have enjoyed cruising as a main form of travel and felt that river cruising would give us an opportunity to see the interiors of European Countries where you cannot cruise.We flew economy on Swiss Air and paid for a deviation so we could avoid Luftansa and the Frankfort airport. We were able to fly non stop from home and were routed back to Zurich on Swiss to fly home from Zurich directly. We stayed two nights prior to our Rhine Getaway at the Radisson Blue in Lucerne. We liked the hotel (we paid for an upgrade to the standard provided room). We were met at the Zurich Airport by a car service who took us not only to our hotel but familiarized us with the area slightly before dropping us off. The first day we had a two hour walking tour of Lake Lucerne and then the next day we also took a tour offered to Mt. Pilaetus. We loved the couple days in Switzerland and hope to return. We were bussed with twenty others who took the post cruise package to the ship, Viking Helvetia in Basel. We were pleased with the cabin and amenities and found the ship and service very good.Food was hit or miss on the ship - some nights were excellent and other nights were not our preference. We found a lot of pork and beef and some lunches only pork available via sausages as is the custom in Germany. Food was always plentiful and only two options - one fish and one meat most nights with a vegetarian option. There were two dessert options nightly. Tables were for 6 8 or 10 and was multiple courses with a choice of appetizers, a soup and entree. We were not hungry but much of the food was oversalty. Breakfasts were generous choices of anything you could think of from eggs, to smoked salmon, to pastries, rolls, pancakes, cereals and yogurts. Lunch was a choice of hot entrees, soups, sandwiches and were acceptable choices. One day in Cologne we ate off ship in the department store on the shopping street and it was magnificent. It was a cafeteria style but the food was fresh and very tasty. White Asparagus was in season and it was available in many preparations there.Most days were structured with a morning tour and an optional afternoon tour or free time. We were bussed in many ports to the tour. Tours were ranked as those needing a more leisurely pace or ranked a three where you might need to walk extensively on cobblestones.Daily there was a port talk and plan outlined so we knew what to expect. Dinner was served right after the nightly talk and so that caused most people to go to dinner right away so the entire ship ate at once.Most of the passengers had some travel and cruise experience and many were an older demographic. Many were limited in mobility. About 20% of the ship was passengers from Great Britain, Canada and Australia. Most passengers I spoke with were experimenting with a river itinerary.One day were were told about the low river and that we would be transferred to the Viking Sun who was sailing from North to South.We heard before we left that the water level was low on the Rhine and a few days into the cruise we were told that Viking had a plan to re-direct us to the Viking Sun from the Viking Helvetia. The ship was older and needing some refurbishing but we were bussed into Heidelberg, toured the castle and had the worst meal I have ever experienced. We were not given any choice but one entree: Frozen Vegetables, A mystery piece of rolled dried stuffed beef that was inedible and Mashed Potatoes made from boxed potato flakes. Salad was only lettuce and dessert ice cream. We left before finishing our meal for a walk in the shopping area. The ship, the Sun was identical in layout and were resettled in no time. We came home to a letter of apology from Viking and that it was done for our safety. The way the plan came off to us, was that it was known at boarding time and we did feel that they were less than truthful about it. To move 180 people including reserving two restaurants for meals was no easy task. We did not bargain for three hours on a bus and a small ship was charted for us to cruise the Rhine and see the missed portion of the river where water was low. We were not happy at all with a tour to the Black Forrest. What it really was was a hijacking to a coo-coo clock store in the Black Forest. We were dropped off for an hour to shop and held captive. Not acceptable to us. We did not see the Black Forrest. We rode 90 minutes to a store to shop for tourist junk.Some of the tour guides were licensed and sounded like tired broken records and others were exceptional. The whisper headsets were well maintained and great.Our tour of the Windmills at Kinderdijk was spectacular but rushed. There was just too much bus time on the trip for us. We expected that we'd be able to walk more right from the ship to see Germany. Not so. Some distances to see things we just beyond a casual walk and there were no real choices for tours. Just one a day. There was an optional afternoon tour but the only one we booked in Rudesheim was canceled because we were moved. Nightly entertainment was very weak. On the Helvetia, no one went to the lounge for after dinner drinks or music. One night a German Band purporting to play New Orleans style Jazz came onboard and they were so bad we skipped our after dinner drink to avoid hearing them. On the Sun there was a three piece group - two violins and a piano who did what was billed as a classical concert but it was really a mix of music and was entertaining. Not great but enjoyable.Post cruise we stayed at the Radisson Blu in Amsterdam. We loved the hotel, ate most of our meals in their dining room because the food was excellent and service superior. Many of the travel companions who did the post cruise did the same. We again upgraded our room to the newly renovated rooms. We would definitely opt to stay there again. They had a box of breakfast for us because we had to leave the hotel for our flight at 6am. The front desk staff made us coffee and even called the airport to see if the flight was on time, then gave us a map of the terminals so we would know. We were whisked by a car service quickly and timely to the airport arriving early for our flight.In summary, we'd only do another river cruise if we were going to sail with friends. We aren't sure it would be Viking. We were led to believe by the CEO that we'd met a few years ago that it was on the level of a luxury cruise, like Regent, Seabourn or Oceania - but - it's not. It was an acceptable way to see the world but not really something we'd seek. We like more choice in the tours. We think we will take land tours when we want to see more of the world than we can see by cruising on a small ocean ship. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
I have long been remiss in writing this review as we cruised on the Viking Sun almost a year ago. As they say, better late than never. We have cruised on Viking twice. The first time was for the Christmas Markets along the Danube on the ... Read More
I have long been remiss in writing this review as we cruised on the Viking Sun almost a year ago. As they say, better late than never. We have cruised on Viking twice. The first time was for the Christmas Markets along the Danube on the Viking Pride. The only way I could describe that trip was magical. It snowed everyday and each day was a wonderland. We didn't even feel the cold as each turn presented a new joy and experience. It was superb. So, several months later, we booked Treasures of the Rhine on the Viking Sun. Again, words cannot describe the joy of a Viking Cruise. I did not think anything could top our first cruise, but in many ways this cruise did. For beginners, it was 15 days on the Rhine and we saw so many wonderful cities and villages. In Cologne, we were paired with an incredible guide who took us to the Cathedral. It was Easter morning and the medieval chimes were in full glory. They only use them six times a year as they are the original medieval chimes. Pure and simply, it brought me to my knees. I can still hear it in my mind. We did an excursion to Lucerne which was magnificent. Brugge was a picture book, the windmills unsurpassed. The Keukenhof Gardens were a sea of tulips. The list goes on and on and none disappointed. The Sun was warm, cozy and welcoming because of the incredible staff. We started as strangers and left as friends. No request was too big or too small. On our first night, I asked the waiter for unsweetened tea. He said they normally served sweetened tea, but would brew me some. I was amazed. For the remaining 13 nights, he appeared magically with my unsweetened tea. Try getting that kind of service on a ship with 3000 passengers. I have never seen a staff work together so well and the captain was right there with them. It was simply amazing. Viking is definitely worth the money. Put it on your bucket list. I think it is a shame, they no longer offer this cruise, but they do offer a shorter cruise called the Rhine Getaway. It does hit the highlights and I have heard good things about that cruise. Now, we are looking at Paris and the Heart of Normandy. I get goose bumps just planning it. Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
IT WAS COLD! IT WAS MAGIC! As we sallied forth each day, braving the elements in search of new and exciting castles and forts and cathedrals and vistas and history, charming markets and good food and drink, I felt like a school child on an ... Read More
IT WAS COLD! IT WAS MAGIC! As we sallied forth each day, braving the elements in search of new and exciting castles and forts and cathedrals and vistas and history, charming markets and good food and drink, I felt like a school child on an incredible field trip. We returned tired and cold but never disappointed. Our ship seemed like the warm, inviting winter home where you relaxed with good friends, good food and good drinks around a roaring fire (not literally) and talked about the day and plans for tomorrow. Cologne was one of the high points for me. It started with a tour by the best tour guide I have EVER experienced.* He was local, very knowledgeable and marvelously witty. Then we toured the markets on our own; made it to 6 out of 7. The vendors were so nice and they all spoke English. The many goods they offered were beautiful and real (not tourist junk). It snowed the entire day and made everything magical. The cathedrals are magnificent in the snow, a complex maze of black and white. I'll never forget the beauty of Cologne in the snow. The staff and crew of Viking make you feel that you are home, but with great service and gourmet food. My wife has a gluten allergy which is usually a problem. The dining staff and chefs made her feel special rather than problematic. Every meal was gluten free for her and special bread was hand-delivered. We have never experienced that level of accommodation anywhere. * In 2010 we were both retired and went to Europe for the first time. I refused to be part of a "tour." Had been on Carnival to Nova Scotia and Holland America on the Alaskan Inland Passage. Not my thing. Ride, point, click and back on the bus/ship/whatever is not how I want to see a country, a culture or anything of real interest. We spent a week by car on our own in Provence followed by Viking's Rhone-Soane cruise from Avignon to Paris, where we spent a week in a small hotel on the West Bank. I have fallen in love with France and Viking River Cruises. I didn't want to leave. I never imagined a tour could be as good as your tours. It always felt like a local, knowledgeable friend was showing a small group of us around his/her neighborhood. No straining to hear, thanks to the closed system from our guide only, no getting left behind when I see something I want to focus on, no rushing to stay near the guide and I always get all my questions answered. If it's my ideal way to travel, it must be Viking River Cruises. I look forward to many more. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
Our letter to Viking following the cruise was 2 full pages and was practically ignored. They offered us $500 each credit on a future cruise with them (which will never happen). I will reduce it here for you. My wife has been in the travel ... Read More
Our letter to Viking following the cruise was 2 full pages and was practically ignored. They offered us $500 each credit on a future cruise with them (which will never happen). I will reduce it here for you. My wife has been in the travel business for 30 years and this is the first negative review we have EVER written. Some problems were minor but altogether, this was just bad. By the way, the cruise started in Antwerp and ended in Basel - a nice itinerary. They sent us information prior to the cruise for the wrong cruise. Rather than courier the correct info, they mailed it and we were already on our way to catch the cruise. The food was of the lowest quality, not cooked well and there was little choice. Dining room service was fine as long as you didn't require anything extra or different, such as a second glass of water. The boat was understaffed to the point that staff would not meet your eyes fearing you might ask for something. There was no maitre d', leaving guests to line up prior to dining room opening and rushing for a choice table - like high school. Not once in 14 days were we called by name and this ship had only 200 guests. They skipped one stop on the itinerary because another Viking ship had the dock that day and they would not pay for a second spot. We had a 2nd Viking ship docked alongside us on 4 days, which meant that we could not open our blinds of our rooms or lose all privacy from the room literally 3 feet away on the other ship. Also, that side of the dining room was dark on those days as that ship blocked all light. There was no security to get onto the ship (there was a warning to Americans in Europe the day before we set sail). Almost all excursions were to "the old town" and to "the cathedral". Very little diversity. Tour guides were anywhere from 2 out of 10 to 10 out of 10. The main lounge was too small for everyone to fit in and the design was not condusive for ease of listening to lectures. The staterooms were small but fine. Nothing special but not a problem. There was the occasional smell of fuel at night while the ship travelled. For others, it was every night and their bed was like a massage bed when the engines started up. They advertised that the fares were 2 for 1, which was a total lie. If so, this would have been a $700 per day per person cruise, more than what you can pay on a 6 star cruise today. It seems like Viking is in trouble and cut corners where possible, lower quality food, less staff, cheap tours (places with no entrance fees). Do yourself a favour and book another river cruise line. I'd be concerned with losing your deposit. Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
I have traveled on over 60 cruises and this was the worst one I have ever been on. Our stateroom was incredibly noisy, so I didn't get any sleep all week. Every time anyone on the ship flushed their toilet, we heard is as loud as ... Read More
I have traveled on over 60 cruises and this was the worst one I have ever been on. Our stateroom was incredibly noisy, so I didn't get any sleep all week. Every time anyone on the ship flushed their toilet, we heard is as loud as someone in the room blowing their nose... gross. The heater (which was needed in the cold ship) made popping noises, so we couldn't use it at night. When we complained about the noise to the front desk, their ignored our urgent request fro a solution. The ventilation system was very bad, since we smelled all sorts of smells wafting into the intake, including diesel exhaust, smoke, and even lighter fluid for a BBQ. When the front desk didn't do anything about the lighter fluid smell, a whole bunch of us had to storm the desk to get attention... I never heard of something so dangerous. Their sound system in the lounge also did not work for half of the cruise, but at least that didn't deprive us of sleep! The ship docked a mile away from where they told us it would be in Amsterdam, forcing my 82 year old parents to walk that far with all their luggage. I highly recommend avoiding the Helvetia and its sister ship Sun until Viking fixes these mechanical problems. Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
This was our first River Cruise, and we loved it! Our cabin was very well laid out, and very comfortable, with a large window which could be opened. The bed was very comfortable, which was important to me because I have sciatica. There ... Read More
This was our first River Cruise, and we loved it! Our cabin was very well laid out, and very comfortable, with a large window which could be opened. The bed was very comfortable, which was important to me because I have sciatica. There was only one seating for dinner, and it was free-style with no reserved tables. This meant that we could share mealtimes with new people. The menu was small, but provided a variety of choices for appetizers, first course, main course, and dessert. The food was beautifully presented, and small, perfect portions. Fotr the "meat and potatoes" type, one could always order steak, chicken,or fish in addition to the daily entrees which were offered. The cruise included at least one tour in each port, and when we boarded, we were assigned a number from 1 to 4. This was our tour group number throughout the cruise. Our tours were very well organized. We disembarked the ship as our group was called, and boarded the tour buses which were waiting for us. They use local tour guides, and all but one were excellent. They also offered some tours in addition, for an additional cost. In the evening, on board, we enjoyed lectures about the European Union, or discussions about the history of the next day's port. Unlike the large ocean cruise ships, there are no casinos or theaters on board. Entertainment was a very talented keyboard player/singer who played in the lounge each evening after dinner. We found this quite acceptable, as we were usually tired after the day's activities. The staff on the Viking Sun always had a great attitude, and all spoke excellent English. Many were bilingual, or trilingual. Each afternoon, the chef walked among the tables, asking us if there was anything he could improve upon, or if we had any suggestions for him. The only thing missing from this cruise was sunshine.....it rained the entire cruise, which was very disappointing. (I nicknamed our cruise "Castles of the Rhine in the Rain") Even the locals were complaining. But, one can't control the weather. I'm really looking forward to our next river cruise, and would definitely choos Viking again. Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
I took the viking cruise on the Nile, it was very exciting, and I learned a lot of hands on information about the ancient and modern Egyptian societies. The two guides, the staff , crew and support people were top of the line. We ... Read More
I took the viking cruise on the Nile, it was very exciting, and I learned a lot of hands on information about the ancient and modern Egyptian societies. The two guides, the staff , crew and support people were top of the line. We sailed from Luxor, to the Aswan Dam where we changed ships. From Luxor to Aswan we were on the Royal Lotus, and after traversing the Aswan Dam we were on the Prince Abaas. Both vessels were exceptionally well built, clean and comfortable, and the meals were very good. The Prince Abaas was an early 1900's ship that had once been a paddle wheeler, and looked like it was right out of the movie "Death on the Nile," by Agatha Christie. It had been modernized, but kept its external appearance including the covers for the paddle wheels. We ended our journey at Abu Simbal where we spent most of the afternoon looking at the magnificent statues. Luxor and Aswan were both beautiful cities, and we wish that we could have had more time to explore them. If I had the chance I would do this trip all over again. Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
April 2010-From the time our flight landed at the quirky half France and half Switzerland airport and we boarded the Viking Sun in Basel, my husband and I had thoroughly enjoyable experiences during the entire Treasures of the Rhine ... Read More
April 2010-From the time our flight landed at the quirky half France and half Switzerland airport and we boarded the Viking Sun in Basel, my husband and I had thoroughly enjoyable experiences during the entire Treasures of the Rhine Cruise. Viking River Cruises had mailed us booklets which contained details of the itinerary as well as brief histories of the places we were to visit. We read the booklets and did additional research on subjects that interested us. We have discovered that the more we know in advance of the city tours and shore excursions, the more we see, appreciate, and enjoy. The Viking Sun is a relatively new ship and comfortable ship. Our room was conveniently located on the middle deck. We were close to the exit exterior doors, the restaurant, the ice machine, and the stairways to the observation lounge and sun deck. The picture window opened which was great to take a quick snapshot without glare and throw a bread scrap to the swans outside when we docked. The room was compact but well designed to incorporate a desk, storage areas, and two chairs with a table between them. The beds were comfortable. Everything in the room seemed new and fresh. Upon entering our room the only odor was the smell of chocolate from the Easter basket, a delightful surprise gift from Viking. Amenities such as free wireless internet were very useful for us. Of course each room has, a TV, phone safe, and individually controlled thermostat. The room was also quiet. We thought the ship had an excellent layout with the restaurant front middle deck for nice views while dining. The reception desk is positioned midship as well as public restrooms which were very convenient for us when going to and coming back from excursions. I personally loved the coffee, hot chocolate, and hot water machine at the top of the stairs of the upper deck. It was free and open all the time. There were pitchers of ice water, ice tea, and Granny Smith apples available there too. Very civilized! The ship was kept immaculately clean. The chef was an energetic young man who met with diners to discover how well the dishes he prepared pleased their palates. My husband and I enjoyed the meals which were very beautifully presented. Considering the size of the staff and kitchen, it was totally amazing the variety and quality of gourmet meals we were served. If a diner did not like the selection of dinners served that evening, a steak, chicken, or Caesar salad could be substituted. The wait staff really hustled and amazingly learned our preferences and names. Lunches and breakfast were a bountiful buffet style. Thankfully, there are no assigned seats so dining companions are a choice. The Aussies and Brits we met and dined with were great fun. On several of the excursions we visited the "old towns". Many of them survived the numerous wars or have been rebuilt or repaired. The art and architecture was beautiful and different from medieval times, to modern especially the magnificent cathedrals. The itineraries included places to taste wine, shop, explore the real surviving medieval Marksburg castle, visit the ruins of Heidelberg castle (beautiful), circle and stare at the huge statue of King William, visit a WWII cemetery and museum at Arnhem, take a canal tour of Amsterdam, stroll through the Keukenhof Gardens with millions of spring tulips, sample Gouda cheese at a farm, marvel at Kinderdijk with working windmills, admire picturesque Brugge and the chocolate shops, listen to beautiful singing in old cathedrals, and enjoy the local markets. There was something new and wonderful each day. The Viking staff on this ship was very knowledgeable, helpful, professional, and efficient. We were extremely impressed by the way the emergency situation with the volcano eruption was handled by the staff. On the day we were to be taken to the airport, the flights were canceled. All passengers on the ship were told that they would be taken care of by Viking. Several of us were scheduled to fly Lufthansa from Brussels. Viking bused us to the airport were we rescheduled our flights and were given hotel rooms in hotels in the airport area as per EU procedure. The other passengers stayed onboard the ship and were taken care of by Viking. The tour guides worked very hard at this time to get everyone on their flight home. This was an emergency they handled well. We are going on our fifth Viking River Cruise tour this summer. Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
This was my first river cruises and only my 3rd cruise overall. We liked the idea of a river cruise for several reasons.... smaller ships with a limited number of passengers, smaller ports of call, more time on shore and less cruising time ... Read More
This was my first river cruises and only my 3rd cruise overall. We liked the idea of a river cruise for several reasons.... smaller ships with a limited number of passengers, smaller ports of call, more time on shore and less cruising time between ports. The Viking River cruise lived up to or exceeded all our expectations. We took the 7 days Rhine Gateway cruise which started in Amsterdam Holland and ended in Basel Switzerland. We took the Cruise in mid December. Being from Florida we where looking for a cold weather vacation and thought the Christmas season and markets would make the cruise special. It did. We arrived in Amsterdam a few days before the cruise. I would highly recommend this since it gives you a few days to acclimate to Europe, the time change, the weather, etc. Amsterdam is a great city and a good part to start you cruise experience from. The ship was very nice and everything we expected from the brochure and web site. The cabin was spacious and well equipped. The lounge and restaurant where comfortable and offered great views of the river scenes as we cruised along. I really enjoyed how the river cruise put you close to the action. Unlike ocean going cruises where you mostly have ocean views, with a river cruise you see all the towns and cities up close as you cruise pass them. The ship had an expansive top deck. It was a little cold to spend too much time outside for the view, but I can imagine in summer, that would add a whole dimension to the cruise experience. The food was good to excellent. Breakfasts and lunches where basic and served mostly buffet style. But they offered plenty of variety and the quality of the food was good to excellent. There was still plenty of service staff available for anything you needed. The dinners were excellent. Plenty of variety and most of it was delicious. Great service and wine selection to go with it. The cruise schedule was fast paced and offered many shore excursions and stops. Every stop included a well organized shore activity that you could participate in. Or you could choose to go freestyle, plan your own activities, and return to the ship just before departure. Several of the evenings offered very late departures from the port you visited that day, so you could go into town to enjoy the nightlife. This helped keep us from feeling to tied to the ship or its schedule. We took most of the shore excursions, but tended to cut out and do our own thing before the whole tour was completed. This worked fine. We cruised during the Christmas season. The Christmas markets where excellent and fun. It added a nice dimension to the shore experience of each town we visited. The locals really take advantage of the Christmas markets, and most where filled with the local towns people enjoying the festivities. Plenty of lights, decorations, and Christmas spirit everywhere. The staff was very attentive, helpful, and polite. We had many questions along the way and they went out of their way to be helpful. The overall layout of the ship was functional and easy to navigate. Not many frills, but very comfortable as your hotel for the trip. With the advantage of not having to pack and unpack each day you visited a new town. The weather was cold with average temperatures of about 30 degrees. But if you dressed warm if was still very enjoyable and added to the Christmas feeling. The only negative is the ship decor seemed a little dated and plain. I thought it could have been more sophisticated or had more designer touches. The shore excursions sometimes took up a lot of you shore time. But since they are optional, you can still make it work for your tastes or preferences. Overall it was a great cruise experience. I would definitely do a river cruise again, and definitely pick Viking again if the itinerary and price meets my needs. Next time I think we will try a summer cruise that offers some warmer weather and a chance enjoy more out door time during the cruise. Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
Viking Sun (Retired) Ratings
Category Editor Member
Rates 3.0 3.9

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